Happy New Year and welcome to Pro Tip! My name is Captain Jonathan Moss and I am addicted to catching Tarpon on Fly. Tarpon are by far my favorite fish to catch! Their acrobatic skills compare only to the trapeze artists of a circus! Their will and determination combined with their incredible strength make Tarpon very difficult to successfully catch. Now tarpon are a summer time, warm weather/water fish, but now is the time that we should begin preparing for their arrival! With that being said, this month’s Pro Tip is all about Fly Fishing for Tarpon. This topic will be broken in to 2 parts with the first being focused on rod/ reel and fly selection. Let’s begin!
Rod and Reel: For juvenile Tarpon up to 40 pounds, a light tackle set up is the way to go. I prefer a 6 or 8 weight sealed drag fly reel paired with a 9’0, 4 piece fly rod. 6 weights are great for smaller fish, but if you come across some larger Tarpon,you may be under gunned. 8 weight fly set ups are a great all-around choice for fly fishing our East Coast lagoons. I prefer to spool my 8 weight reel with a tropical floating fly line and a 15-20lb fluorocarbon leader. If fish are being finicky, try changing to a light leader. But remember, Tarpon have a very abrasive mouth and the lighter the leader, the easier it is for the fish to wear through the line.
Flies: When targeting juvenile Tarpon, I prefer to use small shrimp or baitfish pattern flies. Schminnows, Tarpon Toads, and Gurglers are my top choices
Water depth and Tarpon behavior will play a roll in how I make my fly selection. For example, if I can visually see the tarpon laid up under mangroves or docks, or sitting on the edge of a drop off, I will pick a fly that has a lead head or bead chain eye tied on so that the fly will sink faster to the strike zone. If the Tarpon are aggressively feeding on bait at the surface, than I will tie on a Gurgler. Gurglers, when stripped, create a gurgle or popping type of noise. This triggers that incredible top water bite! As far as color choice is concerned, like our soft plastic choices, natural, white, and dark colors work best in our Space Coast waters.
Lastly, very important to remember and worth mentioning two months in a row:
- Tarpon are Catch and Release only “with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single Tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a Tarpon tag” per FWC.
- Tarpon may be taken out the water for photographs as long as they are no longer than 40 inches.
- Please be sure to handle, revive and release ALL fish with respect and care.
Capt. Jonathan Moss
Go Castaway Fishing Charters